Monday, February 19, 2018

I Mrs. Doubtfire It!!

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially when you are Robin Williams' character in Mrs. Doubtfire. A beloved tale of one father's heart cry to be with his kids when his marriage dissolves.

As his time goes from full to part with them, he does what any father would do out of love for his kids...he becomes a woman?? Not just any woman but a well rounded, British woman with a flair for the sarcastic. My kind of lady!

Famous lines like, "Brace yourself Effie!", and, "Oh, it was a drive-by fruiting!", pale in comparison to the signature look and fashion statement of the lead character, Euphegenia Doubtfire.

Hijinx ensues and this staunch gal is met with one difficult situation after another. However, it isn't long before Robin Williams' true identity is revealed and his desperate efforts to spend more time with his kids are over. He's devastated.

While the movie ended with an amicable arrangement between the divorced spouses, desperate times can make us do some extreme things. I have been desperate - to have a relationship with my son, be married, and come to a place of true contentment about myself. It was hard for me to accept disappointment when my desperation only brought heartache.

Many of us strive to gain things in our lives that might not be good for us. Unfortunately, it's after times of desperation, anxiety, fear, and discouragement that make us realize the things we were running after weren't worth pursuing.

I can really relate to Robin Williams' plight in the movie. Honestly, I probably would have done the same thing. Yet, when I entered into a relationship with God and started to learn about His ways and see things from His perspective, I learned to slow down and my desperation faded.

I still desire the things I once was desperate for but I can, now, react in a way that helps, not hurts, me. It has taken a long time and I still fight impatience, but not nearly as much.

But I know a man who was so desperate, that he gave his life. This man was Jesus Christ (the Son of God), and His desperation was for the people of the world. For the lost, broken, and hurting.

His desperation was so great, that He suffered crucifixion on a cross in order for you and I to be saved from our own desperation. Isn't that amazing?

It doesn't compare to the things I believe I need to be desperate about. Not even close.

Encouragement for the week:

Have you been in a time of desperation similar to that of Robin Williams' character? Did your reaction to it bring good results?

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that Jesus' desperation for you is reason enough to lay down the things you feel desperate about. He is our rescuer in times like that and He will never disappoint.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is completely desperate for you because of His love to see you come close to Him. He will help you in the agonizing things of your life.






Monday, February 12, 2018

Triple Threat

"Do not be anxious about anything..." - Philippians 4:6

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

I believe fear, anxiety, and worry are the greatest feelings that plague us. There are mornings I wake up wrought with anxiety. There is no discernible reason or explanation for the anxiety, it's just there and very real.

I know a lot of people who worry about many things. Sadly, the time spent worrying is long and robs them of joy and peace in life. There are even statistics that state most or all of the things we worry about will never happen.

Then there's fear. Fear of failing is a big one. It stops many from stepping out in a different life direction, trying something that could have the potential of being exciting and of extreme blessing. Yet, if you asked successful people how they became successful, the common answer would be how many times they failed before realizing notoriety.

Whether pursuing a new career, travelling to a new destination, or overcoming the fear and anxiety of being rejected, failure will be a part of that journey. The secret is to ignore the doubt and discouragement that stalks you along the way. How do you do that?

For me, I haven't been able to overcome the biggest fears, anxieties, and worries in my life without the help of Jesus. No matter what I have faced, as scary as it's been, it's my relationship with Him that has brought me peace and courage while tackling some of the greatest obstacles.

Also, reading the Bible and seeing promises that uplift and strengthen, throughout its pages, have been life and situation changing for me. It's within the promises of Scripture that I have found the best rescue in my own anxiety.

It's not always easy to navigate a world that holds unrealistic expectations on us. That's why I turn to the truth contained in the Bible because I know it is good and real and its truth never changes.

In a book called Matthew in the Bible, it says not to worry because nothing comes of it except wasted time. You won't add hours to your life if you worry. Instead, you'll lose a part of yourself if you do.

Being fixed on things like that which are said in the Bible, I, honestly, sleep better at night and wake up in the morning, anxiety free. So "Do not be anxious about anything..." (Philippians 4:6), and you will be able to enjoy the better things in life.

Encouragement for the week:

If you find yourself worrying, you're not alone. Sometimes getting caught up in worry and anxiety can happen but you don't need to stay there.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know the great promises God offers within His Word and a relationship with Him that dispels any kind of worry, fear, or anxiety that life has the potential of bringing. Stay rooted in His Word and hold tight to His promises.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He holds the secret to taking away the unsettling thoughts and feelings you face in your life.

Monday, February 5, 2018

One Flu Over The Cuckoo's Nest

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**


Being sick is...sickening. A cold/flu invades your body, forcing it into a state of homeostasis and hibernation. Your immune system throws a party you never gave permission for with a guest list you you never invited.

The chills and body aches are nothing compared to the unwanted close and intimate relationship you've forged with your toilet. Not to mention coughing up a lung, blowing your nose til it bleeds, and having a cotton mouth that dares to strangulate you because of the need to breathe, solely, from the mouth...for days. Spectacular (mind the sarcasm).

I managed to 'joyfully' experience both a cold and flu in the span of six weeks. While I managed to soldier through the cold and, somewhat, navigate work with most of my brain cells intact, the flu was a whole other mess. While I'm now in the final stretch of the flu, thankfully, I was completely useless in the midst of it. Having no energy or real thought processes, however, did offer something that I found comforting.

Relief. An audible sigh of relief came as my body succumbed to the flu that had taken over. In the few days of having it, I had no worries or anxieties and even though it wasn't the most ideal way to achieve calm, it did have a way of clearing my mind, allowing me to just...be.

I could relax and, more easily, let go of the things that had been plaguing my thoughts. My unfortunate situation had become an unexpected, but pleasant, expedition into the places of my mind that I would try and visit from time to time, but was something busyness and obligation would steal.

Without coercion, I could ponder and feel without restriction or cross examination, if only by my own reason. Consideration was given to the things I would normally fear, while overruling and dismissing them. Great and lucid logic filled my mind even as my body was weakened.

Dare I say, it was wonderful. I actually had no fear at a time I was most vulnerable. I began to think that I needed to be this incapacitated more often. I quickly realized what I had just contemplated and snapped back to reality.

In all honesty, though, there were no real pressures while being sick and as I wouldn't wish these ailments on anyone, I would recommend a time of solitude. When everything in your mind and life are completely and immediately released so that you can be still. So that you can think and feel freely, being vulnerable to yourself.

Encouragement for the week:

While a sickness is never welcome, I have come to appreciate the reprieve it offers from real life. Maybe you can relate?

I pray that you are not suffering from a serious ailment but that you are able to understand the purpose behind the down time.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that we don't plan on becoming sick but, sometimes, God does permit certain ailments to come over our bodies so that we will be quiet and without concern. Sometimes, He allows things to get our attention. Be open to what God may be wanting to say to you during this down time.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him and all the goodness He has for all times in your life.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Runaway

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

Ever feel like running away? Abandoning every single responsibility and disappearing? I do.

Sometimes, life gets to be...annoying, too much, overwhelming. Sure, you can take a trip somewhere to take the edge off but you always come back home. You know what Dorothy said, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. "

She had such a love for home that she felt compelled to say it twice and it is true that there just isn't any place like home, even though things happening there may have been the reason we fled in the first place.

We are told that running away from life, when it gets tough, is never the answer. I would like the opportunity to put in a rebuttle. There are days when work has been taxing and life, well, sucks and all you want to do is call a time out.

You want to sit on the sidelines and take a break before your sanity breaks. When you just want to be without chores, lists of things to do, or having to scrub another toilet.

You just want to be free. Free to not go to work, take a 3 hour nap or stay in your pajamas all day. I have been known to be a little over dramatic while in the 'heat of the moment'.

When it feels like the world is coming to an end because a rock was thrown into my newly replaced windshield.  Okay, maybe not the best example.

Life gets to be too much and you find yourself saying, "I am so done". I certainly do some days. So, why does it have to be so hard? Well, it doesn't.

We can take breaks, smell the flowers, and take our own sweet time. Life really isn't meant to be this hard. Often, we make it that way.

When life seems to take a downward spiral, I am reminded of something Jesus said, rather enthusiastically, in fact. His words appear in a book of the Bible called John. John was a beloved follower of Jesus and recorded much of Jesus' ministry. In John 10:10, Jesus is found saying, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Well, I have to admit...that takes the pressure off. I'm supposed to enjoy life. Perhaps, even in the midst of my own train going off the rails. In fact, moreso, I would argue.

You may not be able to escape your surroundings with a trip, but you can leave the house to take a walk or lie in the grass/snow. We are meant to enjoy life.

That means not letting things get to us too much or for too long and just chill. Walk away from the very thing that's sucking the fun out of your life for a while. Yes, that includes your spouse or the credit card bill that just came in the mail.

Take a deep breath and enjoy a life that is meant to be lived abundantly.

Encouragement for the week:

Feeling overwhelmed? Like you're a caged animal in your situation called life?

If you are a Christian reading this, remember that Jesus didn't just come to save you. He also came so that you would live a full and enjoyable life. Don't let your circumstances keep you from having fun.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him along with life's great abundance and enjoyment that Jesus died for you to have.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Are You Up For It?

"But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." - 2 Chronicles 15: 7

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

If someone challenged you to do something difficult, I mean really difficult, would you be up for the challenge without knowing what it was ahead of time? Meaning, you would have to accept or decline knowing little to no detail of the challenge.

Moreso, would it help you to decide if you were told that the outcome of that challenge would be beyond your wildest imagination? What about now, are you up for it?

If I was asked if I wanted to face the challenges I am, a couple months ago, while being told what those things would be, would I have gone through it all? Truthfully, I don't know. Sometimes, it's just better not to know.

It's hard to not only take on a challenge but, also, have the intestinal fortitude to persevere in and through it. At times, it doesn't feel worth it when the pain and heartache seem to outweigh the benefits of sticking things out.

I hope for the best in every circumstance and determine to believe the good in each person. So, when I am faced with something that continues to be difficult, why persevere? Why not give up?

While I may not have certain expectations of the outcome, I have to admit that seeing some kind of positive progress would be encouraging.

Instead, you're left wondering if you missed something along the way - an opportunity to improve yourself or change direction in the midst of a frustrating scenario.

Yet, persevering in seeing things through, there's hope for a positive outcome. Plus, the possibility of something great coming out of a dire situation drives perseverance and can create an inner excitement and anticipation.

There are so many opportunities in life to stick it out and become stronger, better equipped, individuals for it. To decide to dig in our heels and turn up the staying power.

It's true. In my own life, as time passes by and some things get really discouraging and hard, it's my determination and strength that increases and I have fresh energy to keep going, along with reading what the Bible has to say about persevering.

The Bible speaks, many times, of the benefits of holding on and seeing things through. That it's you who will see the rewards because it will be you who is changed in the process of running the race to the end. That, in turn, will be a help and encouragement to others who are struggling in their own life situation.

There is a book called Romans, in the Bible, that tells us how we can expect our character and hope to build when we persevere. Romans 5: 3-4 outlines a few of the rewards as part of going onward and upward, saying, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." This is cause not just for celebration, but it should give us an expectation that things will get better as you hang in there and a zeal to experience a well lived life.

Encouragement for the week:

Ever wonder what the point of perseverance is? What if you gave up before knowing the outcome?

Is it better to cut your losses and exit a situation relatively unscathed instead of staying with power until the end?

If you are a Christian reading this, we have the joy of receiving great hope and blessings when we persevere in all things, difficult and easy.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him along with the encouragement to persevere in any life situation.





Monday, January 15, 2018

You Can Choose

**Photo courtesy of google.ca**

Perhaps the greatest gift we have been given is the freedom to choose. To decide a different path in life. To ponder something pleasant over something dreaded. To pursue a passion and take risks instead of playing it safe.

Sometimes we perceive things in our lives as something we are held in. However, that very thing has developed an opening, though ever so slightly. One that is letting in a realization of truth. The truth of choice.

I recently experienced the enormity of choice. Just when I thought I had placed myself in a situation that had no choices, I felt God speak into my mind about that very scenario with the words, "You can decide."

"What?", I thought. How can that be? If I, initially,  believed that I must enter into this commitment as part of obeying God, and now a door of exit is being opened, how exactly does that work? It makes no sense...right?

The amount of time between me accepting the circumstance and hearing God say those three words to me was, literally, weeks. My mind was being blown as the words echoed in my head.

God was changing my perception by lovingly and eagerly telling me that there was another option. I had been met by the Creator of the universe who was giving me an amazing opportunity to decide my own life direction.

My mind never went to all the crazy things I could think of choosing.  Nor did it conjure images of anything immoral,  illegal, or unethical. On the contrary. All thoughts and ideas gravitated toward good, pleasing, and exciting things and how I could glorify God in all of them.

In the Bible, there is a book called Romans. In it, there is mention of God's will - the things He has for us to do and experience in our lives when we decide to follow Him. Romans 12:2 says, "...you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will."

That's right. What God has for us in our lives, no matter what, is good. Whether a challenge or a blessing, something good has the potential of coming from it. It couldn't be more true than it is right now.

Being free to choose excites me. It makes me do a dance that no person should ever feel good about dancing in public while expecting his or her audience to keep a straight face. I feel like I have been set free all over again. Just like the day when I said, "Yes" to following God.

So, the things I am being given freedom to choose, while scary and unknown, gives me a certain confidence to live life with an adventurous spirit, to take risks along the way, and live out loud in the fullness that God intended.

Encouragement for the week:

How would a freedom to choose change you? Your life?

Making decisions in line with desires and passions is a freedom unlike any other. Especially when they are good and pleasing.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that because of Christ, you have freedom. Don't allow your life to become hindered with debt, possessions, and immorality - the very things that will steal your freedom to live out the full life God desires for you.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. The freedom that awaits you in Him will bring so many other freeing choices for your life.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Mending Fences

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Living on a farm means there is never a lack of work. There are things that need to be done for a variety of reasons. Especially when you or your neighbor has cattle. A sturdy, well-built fence is your only guarantee of keeping a mating bull from a field full of cows. It's nothing for a determined bull to break through a shoddy and decrepit fence line.

Building or mending a fence takes time, strategy, and meticulous attention to detail. From braces to the posts, lining up the right equipment to the fence nails, it can be an all day event as most fence lines can go for miles.

However, there's no greater feeling than when a five wire barbed fence, in perfect alignment, is completed. The sweat, scratches, and pounding of posts for hours, were worth the finished product. The commitment involved in constructing the perfect fence is not for the faint of heart. It's arduous work with little room for error and no recognition from others of the work done.

Yet, if you stick with it, the rewards of following through on something to the end far surpass the hard work it took to get there. The same can be said when we know there is work to be done in a relationship. When there's a fence in need of mending.

Perhaps, it's in seeking forgiveness for something that was said in the heat of the moment. Or, maybe, it's about talking to that sibling again after too many years have passed. So many, in fact, you've forgotten what caused the silence in the first place. Like a fence, mending relationships takes work and commitment. There might even be some sweating involved.

There is a book in the Bible named Matthew. He was a disciple of Jesus and recorded much of what Jesus taught. Matthew makes a point of noting Jesus' thoughts on when we're at odds with each other.

Jesus says, "...go and be reconciled with your brother...Settle matters quickly..." (Matthew 5: 24-25). Whether a friend or family member, Jesus is telling us to waste no time in making things right and mending the fences that are broken. The time and commitment involved will be more than worth it in the end.

Encouragement for the week:

We may all have situations or relationships in our lives that need some careful mending.

That fence you've taken time to repair will be worth it when you see the finished product. Don't give up.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that God calls us to be peacemakers and to forgive as He has forgiven you. Don't allow anything to stop you from doing what is right.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. A relationship with Him will enable you to mend the broken fences in your life.